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Financial Specialist Associate
Author: April Caldwell
Photographer: Photo courtesy of Denise Looker
When was the last time you heard high praise for someone replacing an “extraordinary” predecessor?
Unless you were part of the nomination group for Denise Looker, I’m almost certain you’re still trying to remember. Yet consistent praise is exactly what Denise has received since joining the South State Street Business Office (SSSBO), a four person shared services office that supports English, History, Political Science, and Sociology.
A native Michigander, Denise grew up in Saline and currently lives in Ann Arbor. She spent 15 years in the banking industry training customer service representatives. She started at the University in 2007 working in financials for the Kellogg Eye Center, before joining the SSSBO as a financial specialist associate in 2011. Excited to join the SSSBO team, mainly to support the Department of English, Denise found her first challenge was larger than just the job itself.
“The biggest challenge was stepping into someone else’s shoes,” she said. “I was replacing someone who had been here over 20 years.”
“[Denise] stepped into a position that had been long and efficiently filled,” said Nicholas Delbanco, Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English. “But in a startlingly short time she has proved herself up to the task and indispensable to the workings of the department.”
“She got up to speed, and more, with dazzling efficiency,” said Linda Gregerson, Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor of English. “Never, in fact, have I seen a co-worker master so much so well in such a brief period of time.”
The brief period was just one year. Just one year before David Halperin, W. H. Auden Distinguished University Professor of the History and Theory of Sexuality, would say, “Thanks in the form of a LSA Staff Spotlight Award are the absolute minimum that she is entitled to.”
Wonderful praise for this avid pet lover and mother of two adult children, who is facing an empty nest for the first time since her daughter’s recent move to North Carolina as an elementary school teacher.
“This is the first time I haven’t had anyone at home, not even a pet,” she said. Though she is very quick to add she still gets her “pet fix” from pet sitting for several families in the area.
Denise also continues to be very close to her children, despite the distance. In her free time she loves painting and flower arranging. In fact, she created all the table arrangements for her son’s wedding this past July. She is passionate about gardening. She manages the perennial garden at her church and teaches wreath making classes at the Matthaei Botanical Garden in November and December.
So how does she feel about her LSA Spotlight?
“There were a few people who said they wished there was monetary compensation that came with this award,” she said. “But you know the most important things in life have nothing to do with money.”
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